The Ganpati Storyby Deepa Gahlot May 13 2017, 7:17 pm Estimated Reading Time: 1 min, 41 secs
How did Lord Ganesha get his elephant head? The myth is part of Indian folk lore—Shiva came home one day and a little boy prevented him from entering the house because his mother was bathing. Unaware that the boy was his son, a furious Shiva chopped his head off. When Parvati saw her child’s headless body, she was grief stricken. To placate her, Shiva had the head of an elephant cut off and placed on the boy’s body. This elephant-human is worshipped as Lord Ganesha.
Yuki Ellias in her award-winning play, Elephant In The Room, sends the boy, Master Tusk, unhappy with his unwieldy head, in search of his head. Helping him, with an agenda of their own, is a hunter Murg, and a spider Makdee—all the characters played by Yuki, with a deft flick of her costume (the sleeves of a robe, become the flapping ears of an elephant, for instance), voice and movement. It’s a skilled and energetic performance and she has the audience—mostly children—in the palm of her hand. Yuki is petite and lithe, but manages to fill the stage when she is on it.
The main issue here, is that of identity, but there is also the matter of violence, refugees, wildlife and environment protection, woven into the story, with a lot of cheeky humour. There is also the acknowledgement of the grief of the slain baby elephant’s parents—nobody gives them a thought.
The lights, sound, music and simple set are all in synch to offer an hour or magic that can only happen on stage. For some reason, the play is positioned for children, but obviously, adults will read more into it than kids, who find the whole adventure amusing and, going by the response, love the squeaky-voiced Makdee.
Yuki won the Best Actress prize at the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Award, earlier this year; the play also won for light design and costumes